Sean Gorman
By Sean Gorman December 3, 2012

Tiny step taken

Bob McDonnell vowed during his 2009 gubernatorial campaign to reward state managers who do a good job.  

"Bob McDonnell will establish a pilot program for performance pay for state managers,” McDonnell's campaign said in a Sept. 28, 2009 news release.

Performance pay is a system in which employees receive pay increases based on the quality of  their work. McDonnell never specified whether his pledge meant that managers should receive permanent raises based on performance or bonuses, or a combination of both.

McDonnell has governed in tight economic times and has not proposed any permanent salary hike for managers based on merit. "Our state manager's salaries, like all other state employee salaries, have been held steady during this administration -- giving no opportunity to fund greater performance pay,” Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, explained in an e-mail.

That doesn't mean there have not been any merit-based incentives offered to bureaucrats.

Caldwell noted that state employees meeting certain performance goals will receive a one-time, 3 percent bonus in December. The payment will go to all workers -- not just managers -- who have earned at least  the rating of "contributor.” That's the second level of a three-tier rating system and means an employee's work meets expectations.

The General Assembly approved the $77.2 million bonus earlier this year contingent on state employees saving enough of their agencies' budgets to pay for the boost.

Ron Jordan, executive director of the Virginia Government Employees Association, gives McDonnell credit for the bonus but said he would prefer a merit-based plan that awards permanent raises.

That type of compensation reform was approved in 2000 under then-Gov. Jim Gilmore, but money has never been appropriated to pay for permanent raises based on job performance.

Caldwell offered no assurances that McDonnell will take further steps "to meet the goals set forth in Governor McDonnell's promise” on performance pay.

McDonnell, through the bonus, has provided some performance-based pay. But contrary to his pledge, its not directed solely at state managers -- all salaried state employees are eligible. And the governor has not taken steps to implement any permanent raises based on merit.

We rate McDonnell's pledge a Compromise.

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